UTG sent Head of Photography, Kellie Gannon, to House of Blues Cleveland for the filming of the final scene of The Sax Man documentary on July 18, 2013.

“It’s really good to be here this evening… it’s really good to be anywhere this evening!” – Maurice Reedus Jr.

Thursday, July 18 after a long day in the sun, heat, and humidity at the Vans Warped Tour stop in Cleveland, I hopped in a cold shower, changed into fresh clothes, grabbed the camera, and made my way down to House of Blues. I’ve been at HOB for easily about a hundred or more shows at this point, but this show was something extra special and full of talent, music history, humanity, love, rhythm, and soul and I couldn’t wait to experience it.

A musician known as “The Sax Man” has been making a lot of buzz in Cleveland in recent years.  Maurice Reedus Jr. is the man with the saxophone who can be found outside of sporting events, music venues, and all around Cleveland lending a beautiful city soundtrack for passerby, rain or shine. Many will stop and enjoy his tunes, but many have turned away, ignoring something as beautiful as a man sharing his gift with the world around him. It isn’t just passerby that can have a harsh reaction towards a man simply playing music; for awhile it was the City of Cleveland as well. Reedus often found himself earning citations simply for playing his saxophone on the streets and began to doubt his own hometown, once a proud city that boasted itself as the “home of rock and roll.”

Over the past two years, a film crew from Cleveland has been following this iconic musician and creating The Sax Man documentary to capture the true story of The Sax Man, a street musician for the last two decades but a touring musician long before that. His inspiring story culminated in this documentary which brought him back together with his old band, Sly, Slick, and Wicked.

You may be wondering what relevance a band established in 1972 in Cleveland has anything to do with music today or even this site? The answer to that is – A LOT. The fact is, most music today is sampled from past artists, a lot of whom never got the recognition they deserve. Rarely any beat anymore is 100% original and without genres, bands, and musical influence from past decades, we would not have any of the current genres and bands we adore. We often get so wrapped up in current hardcore, electronic, and other synthetic genres that we forget to appreciate the simplicity of actual talent, instruments, and music for the sake of music.

This reunion show for Sly, Slick, and Wicked marked the first time Reedus has played on a stage with his former band in nearly forty years and this show was filmed as the finale for The Sax Man documentary, set to be released in January 2014. The stage boasted a heavy lineup of all-star musicians including John Wilson (Sly) who has produced music for Janet Jackson and Barry White, Terry Stubbs (Wicked) who most notably wrote songs for the O’Jays, Johnny Britt (on trumpet) who has worked with some of the biggest musicians in the industry as well as started a band with Reedus when they were only ten years old… the list goes on and on. The greatness of the musicians surrounding a sold out crowd was surreal enough, then cue the music.

The band played their own original tunes as well as covering popular songs from past decades. Reedus played the admired “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” which easily every Clevelander has heard him play. They played several medleys which included “The Right Stuff” by NKOTB, Addams Family theme, “Careless Whisper” by George Michael, “Isn’t She Lovely,” and a beautiful rendition of Nat King Cole’s “Route 66” which Reedus dedicated to his father. Fun fact – at one point early in the set the band played Justin Timberlake’s recent hit, “Suit and Tie.” After the song, they dropped a bomb on the audience. “Suit and Tie” wasn’t an original from Timberlake; parts of it were sampled from the tune “Sho Nuff” by Sly, Slick, and Wicked originally released in 1973 (listen here for the comparison). I have to admit, my mind was blown… and still is.

Overall this was an incredible show full of music knowledge, raw talent, and memories. The icing on the cake was an appearance from Cleveland City Councilman, Joe Cimperman, who took the stage to award Reedus with two plaques. The first signified a law passed unanimously in Cleveland in Reedus’ honor to allow musicians to continue to play on Cleveland’s streets without repercussion. The second was a declaration from Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson that July 18 will officially be known as “Maurice Reedus Jr. Day.” It was an absolutely beautiful moment and amazing to know in the grand scheme of things that Cleveland’s future as the “home of rock and roll” can remain steadfast and true.

Be on the lookout for the remarkable film this upcoming January, as well as The Sax Man continuing to share his beautiful music on the streets of Cleveland. As Reedus closed the show, he ended with this – “I work for Sly, Slick and Wicked. I work for you, Cleveland. I work for my family. And I most certainly work for Him.”

See photos from this legendary show below!




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One Response to “UTG MUSIC HISTORY & PHOTOS – THE SAX MAN (7/18/13)”

  1. Rhenee says:

    I am so looking forward to watching this documentary! I caught the snippet that was posted on fb a few weeks ago, and it got my attention! I played tenor sax in school and always enjoyed it. Maybe the “Sax Man” will inspire me to get it back out again!